Seed Starting Tips, Part 2
Germination! When I was teaching elementary school students about seed starting, we always said, "a seed is a lunchbox for a plant." Seeds contain the essential energy to get a plant jump started - after that, it's up to you to keep it alive and thriving. That is why most seeds will germinate on nothing but a wet paper towel, but they won't live very long. Most garden plants are pretty simple to start from seed, but read on for a few tips and tricks to get the most out of your seeds.
Temperature - As you can see from this handy chart, most garden plants like to germinate between 75-85 degrees. If your seeds are outside of that range, it might take them longer to germinate. Some plants, like lettuce, spinach, and peas, prefer to sprout in cooler temps. For plants that prefer warmer temps, try a heating mat underneath your seedlings for a gentle boost. The top of a fridge or other appliance, or another warmer-than-usual spot in your house might work too.
Lighting - Keep in mind that most plants (with some flowers and herbs being exceptions - make sure you check on each variety's requirements) don't need light to germinate. So, you can start your seeds in a nice, warm, humid, environment, then when they start to pop their little green heads up, move them ASAP to the grow lights.
Water - H20 is what kick starts the seed sprouting. If a seed you don't want to grow gets wet, don't put it back into the packet - compost it or throw it away, because it will not be viable any longer. During germination, most seedlings like a gentle misting so the seed doesn't get dislodged, but once the roots get established they can take more water. The more leaves that are visible, the water more the plant needs. Make sure your container has adequate drainage so the plant isn't resting in water.
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